When I was in high school I often visited my friend Kevin. We'd hang out, watch movies, play video games, etc. We even started our first band in his living room. The house next door to Kevin's was a house in which the rooms were rented out on an individual basis, largely to college students. Each one would rent a room in the house for as many (or as few) years as they needed, and move out when that time came. We saw many people trickle in and out over the years.
At some point, Kevin became friends with a tenant of the house next door named Dylan. Dylan might have been a little older than college age, but I can't be sure. He was starting to bald, but his face was youthful and he had a clear, penetrating gaze, under thin, sharply arched eyebrows. In all honesty, he gave me the creeps right away. When we would be standing outside, I would get the distinct feeling that Dylan — not just "someone" but Dylan specifically — was watching us, and I would turn toward his window to see the blinds closed and unmoving.
Of course, I told myself that this was my imagination and, as what often happens in these cases, I got to know Dylan, hanging out with him and his housemates, and realized that he was a very cool guy. He seemed to know something about everything, and was very friendly and inclusive. If ever there was a dispute of some sort, Dylan would be the first to try and mediate. It was the apparent strength of Dylan's personality, I told myself later, that I never questioned the fact that he never seemed to go outside of his house. I suppose no one else ever questioned it either. But then there was the party.
The tenants of this household threw a party one night in which many people were invited, and even more people showed up unannounced. This, of course, was the point of this kind of party, and the tenants were all delighted to be hosting what they felt would be the talk of the town. By this time, Kevin and I (as well as the rest of my friends who were our age) were in our early twenties and not afraid of being busted for underage drinking, even if the cops did show up when the event got too raucous (which was sure to happen); I personally tended to refrain from drinking anyway.
When the party got particularly rowdy, I decided I needed some some cool night air and started to make my way out to the expansive backyard. On the way I bumped into Dylan, who seemed to be quietly, but genuinely enjoying himself, watching his guests with that same intensity that had bothered me upon our first meeting. I asked him to come out and keep me company, talk for a bit. Dylan looked suddenly shocked and not only refused to go outside, but asked me not to go either. I explained to him I was feeling particularly claustrophobic and that it would probably do both of us a lot of good to get some fresh air. He suddenly seemed panicked, pleading with me not to go outside.
I started making my way out, attempting to leave him behind because I had figured he was a little too drunk to reason with. But Dylan grabbed me, saying "You can't do this to me!" Having absolutely no clue what he meant, I told him that if he wasn't going to let me into the backyard, I'd just go home. Dylan glanced quickly, tentatively, perhaps fearfully, toward the front door, as though whatever it represented was a doom beyond anything I could possibly comprehend. Then he sighed, and invited me into his room, where it was sure to be more spacious and less stuffy. He also invited Kevin and a couple of girls I only knew vaguely, which seemed like a strange and arbitrary addition. I decided to go. Afterall, no one but Dylan ever went into Dylan's room — this would be a new setting, if nothing else.
The room had been saturated in a purple glow coming from several tinted lamps around the room. Not black lights; just purple. Apart from this, it seemed a normal bedroom. A Couple of prints of classic paintings, a small bed, closet, tiny desk (no computer) — it was all very tidy. Dylan seemed immediately more relaxed, and we started having our own private party.
One of the girls actually seemed pretty cool, and we hit it off almost immediately. As the night went on in Dylan's room, my memory gets a bit foggy, and memories that might not be real start invading my thought process. In retrospect I had first blamed it on alcohol, but then I remembered that I hadn't drunk a single drop of alcohol that night. Moreover, I had not smoked, snorted or injected anything that might have forcibly altered my perception of the world around me. Yet, I remember some very strange things with a disturbing clarity within that fog.
I remember making out with the girl, and Dylan watching us. It didn't seem creepy or unnerving at the time, but he had that intense gaze, and something that looked like satisfaction played on the corner of his smile. I remember a very old-looking cat rasping a weak meow in the corner of the room; I had not noticed this cat beforehand, and Dylan had said dismissively that the cat had been in his family "longer than forever". I remember three drunk people bursting into the room from a door leading to the outside of the house (again, something I had not noticed until that moment); one was dressed as a goat and walking on all fours; I remember being quite impressed at how well he did this.
And I remember suddenly noticing that Kevin, the girl I'd been with, and everyone else, save Dylan and myself, were no longer in the room. He was holding my shoulders and staring at me, straight into me. He was saying words but I don't remember what they were. I was saying words too, but my responses were much shorter than his. "I knew it would be time soon" he had said. I still don't know what this means. One of Dylan's housemates entered the room, seemingly angry, and I believe I left the room by my own choice. Then my memory gets a lot clearer. The main party had wound down considerably, and it was easy to make my way to the front door. I walked out, peeled some wet toilet paper from the windshield of my car, and drove home.
For some reason, I didn't see Dylan after that. It wasn't a conscious decision. I thought about that house once in a while, but I didn't go back for several years. I thought about how odd it was that Dylan refused to go outside and realized that I had never seen him outside. I thought he might have had some sort of disease that required him to stay indoors and felt guilty that I had never asked him about it.
Finally, I decided to visit the house again, hoping Dylan still lived there so I could explain my absence and catch up a bit. Surely enough, the tenants were a completely different set of college kids who had no recollection of anyone named Dylan ever living there. This much I had been prepared for, but when I asked who lived in that room now, I was answered with the question "what room?" I was allowed into the house to check it out, but the room was gone. In fact, upon scouting the exterior, I saw that it would have been impossible to fit Dylan's room onto the property at the point of the house I had thought the room had been.
For a second I allowed myself to believe that whatever drugs I had been on had just gotten me turned around, then reminded myself again that I had not done any that night, nor do I ever. I left the house apologetically, and stopped by Kevin's dad's house next door, only to learn that Kevin too had disappeared, a year prior. I was saddened and again ashamed that I had not even known the fate of one of my best friends. I supposed adult life did that to people, but that didn't make me feel any better about it.
I'm sorry I couldn't convey a story in which something actually happens, but honestly, that's all there was. Sometimes I feel a sense of deep foreboding or imminent danger, and in my mind I immediately feel it has something to do with Dylan, or maybe even Kevin. But nothing ever happens. I even still feel once in a while like Dylan is watching me, anxious, intense, pleading. And every time I turn around, there is indeed a doorway or a window, but it is always shut; there are always blinds, and they are always unmoving. I guess the worst part is that when I sense Dylan, I feel like he's telling me I owe him something. But I don't know why.